Pa‘a ‘Aina Preparations for Kingston

On November 22, 2014 there will be a celebration for the first birthday of Kingston Keanula‘iokahana Carvalho-Baylosis.

We are in the midst of a whole series of food preparations because it’s the fist year baby luau for my hanai grand nephew Kingston Keanula‘iokahana Carvalho-Baylosis.  His dad is Vince Baylosis and Brandi Carvalho is his mom. On November 22, 2014 we are going to celebrate his 1-year-old birthday. It is Hawaiian cultural tradition where each right of passage calls for a celebration or Pa‘ina or commonly called Luau today. The correct name of the celebration should be Pa‘a ‘Aina or Pa‘ina for short and represents becoming Pa‘a or in tune (become one) with the land or Aina. Luau literally means and pertains to the taro leaf that’s being prepared or eaten at the Pa‘a ‘Aina but has become the more commonly used modern term. It’s one of several rites of passage celebrations that we Hawaiians go through in our lifetime. Other celebrations include graduation from high school and college, house or canoe or boat warming, marriage, death and one year after one’s death and significant birthday’s along the path of one’s life.

It’s 3 am and I’m cooking the kalo (taro) from yesterday’s Harvest Moon from my hanai nephew Sam Hambek who lives in Haiku. Sam’s sister Abigail Alohilohi used to dance hula and play ukulele for my son, Keoki and me in the mid 1990’s. Sam is handy to have around as he helped me fence about 8 of our neighbors with 3-5 acres each so we now have an extra approximately 30 acres to run our horses, sheep and goats. He also helped me build our 4 mini barns and sheds that provide shelter for our assorted livestock. Yesterday we were at Sam’s farm and house in wet Haiku with Vince Baylosis. It was a full day of prepping and cooking kalua pig.

We – my farm crewLinda Bulabar, Ganon Silva, Vince Baylosis, Sam Hambek and I, gathered banana stumps, ti and banana leaves, and heated Imu stones until they were white hot, using kiawe wood as necessary to intensify the fire. When the coals were perfect, we loaded in about 150 pounds of pork, two turkeys, a duck, a hunk of venison and two pans of laulau that we assembled. We then covered the works with ti and banana leaves. Somehow…, we forgot to include the kalo into the Imu! That’s why I’m cooking it today on the stove at my house in Kahakuloa.

I do have my mango wood poi board and my traditional poi pounder, but I’m going to cheat and use my industrial strength Champion food juicer to “pound” the kalo corm to make not only the common kalo poi, but also ulu poi. A few days ago, my friend Lane Fujii gave me a half dozen ulu (breadfruit) that I ripened and cooked and refrigerated.

Speaking of refrigerators and freezers… Nancy is always questioning my natural Hawaiian cultural practice of hording, and especially when it involves our “limited” refrigerator and freezer space. I have four freezers and two refrigerators and all Nancy asks is exclusive use of two shelves of refrigerator and 2 shelves of freezer space. Somehow, my stuff always ends up creeping into her sacred space.  I got a variety of homemade kimchees, salted vegetables, chicken feet, dried and raw fish, squid, chili pepper water, sweet and sour pickled pigs feet, various kinds of seaweed, inamona (kukui nut relish/seasoning), homemade jams and jellies, frozen lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, tahitian limes, frozen lamb, pork, beef, goat, Maui venison, moose and deer burgers (from our recent trip to Alaska), reindeer and elk sausages, assorted smoked meats, frozen salmon and halibut and various animal innards and leg parts and other local foods she’s labeled “Mystery Death”. Don’t even get into my sauces, Hum ha (shrimp paste), oyster sauce, patis- fish sauce and so on. I also have frozen laulaus, kalua pig, poi, taro and taro leaves and frozen, saved papaya, gondule, luceana and various seeds for planting! Ours is a varied and cosmopolitan kitchen farm and garden!

Getting back to making poi, I remember my Tutu Ko‘oko‘o and Aunty Aulani steaming loads of kalo and/or ulu in our cooking house, which was a separate structure from the main house. The cooking house housed an Imu, smoke house, place for boiling water for bathing, and place for steaming taro and ulu. It also had a kerosene stove and a kerosene oven. The cooking house was set apart from the main house because it had a tendency to catch on fire, usually from smoking macadamia wild pork that had so much macadamia fat that it would ignite and burn down the entire cook house. No problem – we would just straighten out the old iron roof – build up the shed walls with more wood and we were good to go! Our cooking house burnt down 3 times in my lifetime!

Anyway, I remember Tutu Ko‘oko‘o and Aunty Aulani pounding poi sitting and facing directly across from each other on a huge, 5-foot poi board. They would wet their kui pohaku (stone poi pounder) with their left hand and pound with their right hand directly in front of them, continuously folding the paste until the pa’i ‘ai was smooth. Then they would mound the done pa’i ‘ai towards the center of the board until they formed a stash of 200-300 pounds. Later the pa’i ‘ai was stored in 10 and 20 gallon old pottery crocks or kelamania and then capped with cooked boiled water.  Other kelamania contained salted pork, salted beef and salted fish,- and sausages capped with lard, as there was no refrigeration. Smoked hams and meat would hang from the ceiling away from vermin. Later when we wanted to make poi, huge amounts of the “cured” pa’i ‘ai was mixed with water and covered with cheese cloth or old rice bags and then put in a screened box we called a “safe” where it was allowed to ferment even further before it was eaten with fish various salt meats with cabbage or luau leaf, raw onion, tomatoes and various fruits from our garden with chili peppers.

Well it’s now 5:30 am, my kalo is cooked! I need to peel off the outer skin, cool it off and make pa’i ‘ai this morning for the luau in the coming weeks! Then at 8 am! Head back to Haiku where Sam Hambek and the Imu are, to open the Imu and hemo (remove) the kalua pig, duck and venison that’s been cooking since yesterday afternoon. We will freeze it for Kingston’s baby luau in 2 weeks.

-Uncle George